Chicken-Pecan Meatballs with Charred Nectarine Passata



Ripe Stone Fruit
Ripe Stone Fruit

If you read my last post on Roasted Tomato Passata, you know about my new cookbook Mad Delicious. This cookbook teaches home cooks “the science behind making healthy food taste amazing”. As someone who cooks from the heart, I like to know why a certain ingredient or cooking method is used over others in a recipe. That way I can make those types of decisions on my own when creating a meal. Mad Delicious does just that. For example, the Chicken-Pecan Meatballs call for goat cheese. Next to the amount on the recipe, it explains that goat cheese is used because “it’s acidic, soft and can be easily blended”.  Just to warn you, I omitted and replaced many ingredients from the recipe, partly because of what was available at my local grocery store and partly because I’m a rebel.

Bare with me, this is a long list of ingredients. But you may have most of them and others can be used in different recipes.


Charred Nectarine Passata

5 ripe nectarines

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil



2-3 fresh thyme sprigs

Chicken-Pecan Meatballs

1 cup bread crumbs

2 pounds ground chicken or 4 chicken breasts (grind yourself like me!)

2 ounces goat cheese

1 vidalia onion, grated

1/3 cup pecan, chopped fine (leave some of garnish)

5-6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves separated

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1/4 cup milk

3 dashes hot sauce

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 cup chicken stock


2 ounces of goat cheese

chopped pecans

lemon or lime wedges



  • Set oven on broil
  • Lay out sheet pan covered in tin foil
  • Score an “X” onto the bottom of each nectarine
  • In a bowl: toss all nectarines with olive oil, salt and sugar

Fun Fact: The sugar is to foster charring, not to add sweetness.


  • Broil for 15 minutes, turning often
  • Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes
  • Rub off the charred skin


  • Remove the pits
  • Roughly chop the nectarines
  • Toss with thyme leaves


  • Use a food processor or blender to puree the nectarines, in batches
  • Add some more olive oil to help with the blending
  • Set aside for later
No ground chicken? Make your own.
No ground chicken? Make your own.

I happened to have chicken breast in my refrigerator. On top of this, I also have a meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid. So, one thing lead to another and I decided to make my own ground chicken.

Grindin' the Chicken
Grindin’ the Chicken

Grinding my own chicken for a Chicken Meatball gave me a sense of pride. Like, “I made this with my hands, show some respect”.


  • Throw all the Chicken-Pecan Meatball ingredients, EXCEPT the chicken stock, into a bowl
  • Fold it all together with your hands
  • Roll into balls
  • Heat a fry pan on medium and spray with cooking spray
  • Add half the meatballs to the pan and brown on each side, repeat with other half


  • Remove all meatballs from the pan and set aside
  • Deglaze the brown bits at the bottom of the pan with chicken stock
  • Add the Charred Nectarine Passata to the pan
  • Add all the Chicken-Pecan Meatballs to the pan
  • Bring to a simmer then cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes


Serve garnished with goat cheese, thyme and pecan pieces. The meatballs are juicy, soulful and healthy. Your taste buds will experience sweet, salty and savory flavors. The Nectarine Passata is a staple sauce that can be served with anything, from seafood to dessert. The Passata is also freezer friendly for those fast-paced weeknights.

I want to point out something important to me in the picture above. My Grandma, who raised me with my mom, passed away last Monday. Even though she was 93 years old, it was tragic because I could never imagine my life without her. Last week, I had the opportunity to go into her house, one last time, and say goodbye. This was so difficult because my mind and heart were overwhelmed with emotions. I took this beautiful silver bowl and top, spoons and dish towel to remind me of how much she liked to cook. Everything is vintage or so I thought. My family laughed at me because here I am thinking I took an ancient dish towel from Italy, but when I read the tag it said, “Martha Stewart”. Sometimes God gives us these little things to lighten the mood.

Click the highlighted words to read my Grandma’s famous Italian Chicken Soup recipe and a heart-warming tribute to her.

This recipe was featured on the Food Cheat Sheet website. Read the article here: